Morocco is truly a shopper’s paradise. The cities of Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes are known not only for their beauty, but for the incredible shopping! You can find just about anything your heart desires in Morocco’s souks, the tricky part is narrowing down what to buy and figuring out how to get it all home! Below are my tips for shopping in Morocco!
When I say you can buy just about anything in Morocco, I mean anything! Jewelery, ceramics, leather goods, rugs, textiles, spices, bags, shoes and so much more! You could spend weeks wandering through the souks and still not see it all.
Don’t get overwhelmed! Make a list before your trip of your high priority items. Whether that be home décor, clothes and shoes or a famous Moroccan rug, having an idea of what you’re looking for ahead of time will help you stay focused.
Take a day to just browse. I somehow managed to leave all my cash and atm card in the hotel on our first full day in Marrakech. It ended up being a good thing because it gave me a chance to get a sense of what I wanted, where to find it and how much it should cost.
While you’ll find similar items in everywhere you go throughout Morocco, each city does some things a little better than others. For instance, Marrakech has some of the better rug shops. Fes is known for it’s leather goods and Essaouira where you’ll find the best silver jewelry.
Beware of junk and scams. Although you’ll find some truly beautiful and authentic items throughout Morocco, there is also just a lot of junk. We were told to avoid buying anything described as an “antique” because there was no way to verify it.
Similarly, everyone will want you to believe that their goods are “genuine and rare” even though the exact same things are on the display oat the stall next door! Just go with your gut and if something feels like a scam or someone is trying to sell you an item that you know you could get back home for less than half the price, just walk away!
While you will also find a number of boutiques, the prices tend to be inflated and they are often not locally owned. For the best prices and most variety, stick to the souks. It’s more of an involved process as you’ll have to negotiate for a good price, but that’s part of the fun!
If you find a shop you like, but aren’t ready to buy, be sure to ask for their business card or drop a pin on your map. The souks are like a maze and it’ll be difficult to find a particular shop if you don’t save the exact location!
Ask locals where to shop. If you ask a guide or hotel staff tour, chances are they’ll lead to you a shop that they have an affiliation with. Making friends with locals is the best way to find the hidden gems and avoid scams.
Shopping in Morocco’s souks is a bit different than just popping into your local mall. Nothing has a price tag, so you’ll have to haggle for everything.
Don’t expect a quick transaction. Negotiating takes time and requires a lot of back and forth, but it’s part of the game!
Never accept the first offer. As a general rule of thumb, counter with half the price initially offered and move up from there.
Be willing to walk away. If a seller senses that you REALLY want something, they’ll be reluctant to lower the price. Keep it casual and if you can’t agree on a final number. Tell them, “Maybe tomorrow” and walk away. In most cases, they’ll end up agreeing to your price. If not, just keep it moving! Chances are you’ll find the exact same item at the next stall!
Have cash on you, preferably small bills. The exchange rate when I was there was about 10 dirhams to $1 dollar. I found that it was easier to negotiate when I had my cash in hand that matched my offer. I could say, “50 is my final price and I have my cash right here!” That worked better than telling them their price was too much, then asking them to break a 500 dollar bill!
Be kind, patient and respectful. If you’re not used to the process, it can be a little stressful. It may seem that the vendors are being aggressive, but it’s not personal! At the end of the day, they’re just trying to make a sale. Have fun with it, keep it light, smile, laugh and take your time. Once you try it a few times you’ll get the hang of it!
Don’t overpay just because you can. Not everyone will agree with me on this point, especially when you’re haggling over a few dollars, but it’s about the principle.
As a tourist, you already stick out as someone that can be taken advantage of. The prices will automatically be inflated before you even step foot in the stall.
Stand your ground, until you reach a price you feel is fair. To give you a sense of what some items cost – leather sandals were $10 USD (I think I could have gotten them for $6-8 USD), haram pants were $15 USD (I think I could have gotten them for $10 USD (and basket bags were $10-15 USD and silver, spices were a few cents and silver jewelry was around $25 USD.
I hope these tips help prepare you for a day of shopping in the souks of Morocco! If I missed anything or you have more questions, leave a comment below!